Onset and Offset Deservingness: The Case of Home Foreclosures



An examination of the debate surrounding foreclosure assistance suggests that arguments vary in the extent that they suggest people facing foreclosure deserve assistance and whether the cause of the foreclosure is at the onset or offset of the foreclosure situation. Results from an experiment using a nationally representative sample suggest that people use the attributional evidence provided by onset- and offset-deservingness scenarios to determine their support for governmental and personal foreclosure assistance. Consistent with attribution theory, path analysis suggested that attributions of controllability and the associated emotions of anger and sympathy mediated the relationship between deservingness arguments and support for foreclosure assistance. Additionally, people who endorse conservatism were more likely to oppose foreclosure assistance. Ideological differences in perceived controllability, anger, and sympathy mediated the relationship between ideology and personal assistance and partially mediated the relationship between ideology and government assistance.